Every year as a child at Balmoral Show, as we were walking around the bottom left corner of the King’s Hall and approaching the display of bubbling hot tubs my father, without fail, would say “when the milk price reaches 50p/l we’ll get a jacuzzi”.
At the time the milk price would have been approximately 17p/l, so in this period of increasing milk prices (although still a considerable distance from 50p/l) I felt it necessary to revisit this bold promise.
I was promptly told that under a force majeure clause, due to rapidly increasing costs, that pledge was no longer valid – we have moved into a period where a bag with Yara written on it will hold much greater public respect than a bag embossed with Louis Vuitton.
On the subject of costs, if we were to consider reducing our electricity bills with the erection of a wind turbine, I have identified a suitable location on the farm.
A fortnight ago during a vigorous storm, the wind managed to get under the cover of our main silo, tossing the rear tractor tyres that lined the outside edge 30ft.
Given that it was early January, Dad’s request of a silo cover in our local farm supply shop was met with bemusement
Around a third of the cover was damaged and had to be replaced. Given that it was early January, Dad’s request of a silo cover in our local farm supply shop was met with bemusement.
After replacing the black cover, relaying the green mesh and covering the entire area with tyres and lorry tyre sidewalls, we also added ratchet straps over the width of the silo at 6ft spacing, securing the straps with hooks that are bolted to the outside edge of the silo walls. I can only hope that this will keep winter storms out of what we thought was safely gathered in.
On the farm, as well as Holstein and Fleckvieh cows, we have two Jersey/Holstein crosses (their mothers were twins and they have the same father so they are both cousins and half-sisters).
During a heavy shower, while the rest of the herd is sheltering behind a hedge, the dynamic duo will continue to graze as if the sun was shining
The two cows have characteristics that are completely different to their Holstein and Fleckvieh stablemates.
During a heavy shower, while the rest of the herd is sheltering behind a hedge, the dynamic duo will continue to graze as if the sun was shining.
If there is no spark on an electric fence you can be sure that it will be a Jersey that will notice this and will soon be at the wrong side of the wire.
I really do believe that a herd is not complete without at least one Jersey
When you enter a field, you will immediately be greeted by a friendly black barrel that will gladly stand for a head rub.
I really do believe that a herd is not complete without at least one Jersey, not just on economic grounds (both have exceeded 7,000l of high-quality milk in their first lactation) but just for the sheer novelty, and the fact that they never fail to bring a smile to your face.
On Boxing night, one of the double act gave birth to a beautiful sandy-coloured Jersey heifer.
By the time this heifer has calved two years down the line, we will be well into Dale Farm’s new component pricing scheme, a scheme that will help give a proper reward for high-quality milk like that produced by the Jersey breed.
Looking to the new year, there are many reasons for farmers to be positive, with in particular, market demand strong for all commodities.
It must be said that Minister Poots has taken a much more pragmatic and co-operative approach towards our industry than many of his counterparts in neighbouring nations
The DAERA proposals on future agricultural policy also recognise that agriculture is the cornerstone of the NI rural economy. It must be said that Minister Poots has taken a much more pragmatic and co-operative approach towards our industry than many of his counterparts in neighbouring nations.
But it is also good to see that more consumers want to learn about how their food is produced, with some anecdotal evidence that they are now less likely to be persuaded by campaigns such as veganuary.
No doubt we will face many challenges ahead (such as the Bailey Climate Change Bill) and these should not be underplayed, but as we enter this period of agricultural and environmental revolution, we are well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that will arise.